How to Tell If Your Baby is Sick – Don’t Ignore These 10 Signs

How to Tell If Your Baby is Sick – Don’t Ignore These 10 Signs

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Mahesh Patil (Paediatrician)
View more Paediatrician Our Panel of Experts

Taking care of a baby can be challenging, especially for first-time parents. If you’re a new parent, you must be still learning something new about your baby every day; and it can be hard for you to identify whether your baby’s runny nose is normal and will get better within a day or requires a visit to a doctor. The struggle is real, and we get you, parents, we do, and that’s why we are here to help you in your first year of parenting. We’ve covered some important information on baby sickness. Read on to understand how you can tell your baby is sick and needs a visit to the paediatrician.

Video : How to Tell If Your Baby Is Sick (10 Signs to Watch Out For)

How to Know If Your Baby is Sick

Babies have a developing immune system, and hence they need extra care apart from your daily TLC. Babies who are exposed to day-care environments are susceptible to more germs and therefore are prone to sickness more often. However, any baby can fall sick, which is why, you need to be on guard, almost always. Look out for the following signs in your baby and consult a doctor immediately if the condition seems severe.

1. Fever

If your baby’s body temperature is 100° F or higher, the chances are that he may have an infection. Take your baby to a doctor in case of a fever, especially if he is under three months of age. A fever sometimes even accompanies growth milestones like teething or can be associated with persistent crying or dehydration due to less milk intake. If your baby is teething and his temperature is less than 101° F, then it is considered normal. Anything higher, take him to a doctor. You can also check for the signs of teething by rubbing your fingers on his gums. This way you will understand whether or not you need to take your baby to a doctor.

2. Jaundice

Usually, all newborns have a yellow trace over their skin for the first week or two because their liver is not fully developed yet. Nevertheless, you can check to see if the yellow colour appears as soon as the baby is born. Also, if the colour is on the palms or soles, consulting a doctor would be the wisest choice. You can tell the difference by pressing his sole for a couple of seconds with your thumb to see if the colour returns. See if it is yellow or pink. If it is yellow, your baby might be sick.


3. Lethargy and Increased Floppiness

Gentle stimulation is enough to arouse a baby from restfulness. A newborn remains asleep or in a state where his eyes are closed most of the day. A healthy baby’s cries are clear and loud. But if the crying turns weak or baby suddenly finds it a struggle to suckle, then your baby needs help. Sluggish activity is a sure sign to watch out for, as it will let you figure out if your baby is sick.

4. Difficulty in Breathing

Rapid and wild breathing that is generally higher than 60 breaths per minute can be a sign that the baby needs medical attention. If breathing difficulty is accompanied by grunting sounds, weighty movements of the chest and abdominal region, and blue discolouration of tongue and lips, take your baby to a medical expert. Resting rate of breathing should be counted immediately after a feed or when the baby is asleep to understand the difference.

5. Hypothermia

Hypothermia is a condition in which the body temperature is low (below 97°F) and it can be detrimental for infants in all climates whether tropical or hilly areas. To check if the baby is feeling cold, always compare his sole’s or palm’s temperature with that of his belly and back. You can check this by touching the baby’s body with the back of your hand. If the sole appears cooler than belly, then your infant might be having mild hypothermia and if both are cold to touch then its severe form of hypothermia. This heightens the risk of developing cold damage, and it also upsurges baby’s energy requirements. Hypothermia is a lot more common in premature babies than in older infants.

6. Delayed Urine and Motion

Ideally, a newborn must pass a sticky stool called meconium within the first 24 hours of his birth. He must also pass gas and urinate in the first 48 hours of being born. A healthy infant can poop between 8-12 stools per day once after each feed, but it is not a cause of alarm unless the stools are unusually watery or green, or are accompanied by mucus and blood. The frequency of urine passage is around 6-8 times in 24 hours, and if you notice that urine frequency is decreased or baby is passing less amount of urine, then your baby might be sick and you should take him to a doctor at the earliest.

7. Vomiting

Spitting-up is very common in newborn babies. This is because the oesophageal sphincter is not fully developed in babies and allows reflux of the milk. Also, babies suck rapidly and may overfeed in a matter of minutes. This can cause them to spit-up sometimes. However, if the sickness is persistent, and the vomiting is forceful and green or brown in colour, and the baby is hungry or in unable to sleep, you need to consult a doctor.

8. Excessive Weight Loss

A newborn loses between 8 to 10 per cent of his birth weight and steadily gains it back over the next 7 to 14 days of his life. If you notice that your baby has lost more than usual weight and is not regaining it soon enough, it could be a sign that he is sick and may require medical attention. It could also be that the baby has not learned to latch and isn’t getting enough milk.

Excessive Weight Loss

9. Having a Fit

If you observe any abnormal movements like the baby rolling his eyes upwards, tightening his legs and arms, arching his back, or if he cries unusually, doesn’t respond for long periods of time, then he might have a seizure or convulsion. Seizures require immediate medical attention especially if the baby has never had a fit before, or it is stretched more than five minutes.

10. Soft Spot Change

An infant’s fontanelles should be soft but firm to touch, and it should be at level with surrounding bones. A bulging or sunken fontanelle can be a sign that the baby is ill. If your baby is calm and not crying or irritable and yet the fontanelle bulges, then medical intervention is required.Sunken fontanelle is generally suggestive of dehydration.

As a parent to a newborn, you are likely to worry about your baby’s health, but if you carefully notice the above-mentioned signs, you will be able to determine whether or not your baby is sick, and take action accordingly. Being a parent is hard, and you won’t get things right in the first attempt, but you don’t need to panic of feel guilty. Take cues from your baby and trust your instincts; if you suspect that your baby is not well, do not hesitate to take him to a doctor. Take care of your little one and enjoy the little moments of your life with him.

Also Read: How to Boost Baby’s Immunity?

Previous article «
Next article »